Office Nostalgia Revisited


I wrote a while ago about how much I missed working with a physical stack of paper. Back in the dead tree days, it was so much easier to know where you stood in your workday. If, by 3:00PM, there was still more paper on the left side of my desk than the right (I'm a lefty), I knew I was in for a long day.

Today I miss my old calculator. You know the one. The old, boxy tape calculators that were the staple of every proper desk. Loud enough to wake the neighbours and heavy enough to take out a burglar. Do an image search for bookkeeping and it'll be on the first page.

The sound was equal parts mid-90's IBM keyboard and dot-matrix printer. Show this monstrosity to anyone born after 1989 and you'll be hard pressed to convince them of its merits. I, however, miss these dearly. Just like the big stack of receipts casting shadows on my desk, these old calculators made it feel like you were getting real work done. If you spent a full morning crunching numbers, you would be left with a mile-long coil of paper, a cramped up hand, and a light ringing in your ears.

Unfortunately, there is no way I can justify using one today. Instead of cranking away on a loud keyboard to add up a row of totals, I just write a =SUM() string and hit enter.

Before you email me...yes, I know there are "tape calculator" apps. No, they aren't the same thing.

Here's my ideal scenario. I want a heavy tape calculator. No need to MacBook Air it for me. Make it thick beige plastic with full size buttons. Now add a USB connection and let it work both ways. I want it to work as a laptop numpad AND let it print directly to a role of paper too. Sure, there can be a switch to turn that off, but I want the option to have my totals go directly into Excel and still have that hard copy when I'm done.

Please tell me someone has already done this. Yeah, I could Google it, but it's late and I'm too tired to bother. I'm sure there's a 27-step Instructables article on how to make your own. I can toss it into Evernote with the 436 other projects I swear I'll get around to someday. Until then, I'll just sit here reminiscing about the "good old days".

Don't Deduct These

I ran across a great post today over on's site. It's from Kimberly Weisul and Jody Padar, who clearly know what they're talking about.

I write a lot (especially in emails to clients) about what you can and can't claim on a tax return. Kimberly & Jody have written up a great post about some of the most common types of expenses that are (but shouldn't be) claimed on small biz returns. They even add a nice touch of humour, which is something I wish more bookkeepers/accountants would include in their writing.

You really need to read through the full post, but here's a bit of a summary of the basic concept.

Be logical. Your small business return is where you claim business expenses. Before you add something to your return ask yourself one simple question. Was this money I spent in order to support my business? Sure, that 6 pack of socks will eventually find their way to your feet, and your feet will be with you when you do business. That doesn't mean you get to write off your purple knee-highs.

Here's an excerpt.

6 - Clothing or jewelry

You can deduct this if: You're a performer--actor, artist, DJ--and you're buying the clothing or jewelry for a performance. In that case, it's considered 'costuming,' and you can write it off.

This is a great one to mention. I can't tell you how many times I've had people who wanted to write off their work clothes. I have to admit that I can see their point. If you spend a lot of money on suits that you wear exclusively to the office, I can understand why you'd want to claim those costs. Unfortunately, as they point out...unless it's a costume that's used for a performance, it's not a business expense.

Do yourself a favour and read this post. I think you'll find it very useful. If you like it, make sure to follow Jody on her own site. This is a guest post for Inc, but you can find Jody's site here.

No, You Can't Deduct That: 11 Tax Deductions That Can Get You in Trouble

ThatBookkeeper - Tax Time Greatest Hits

Looking back through the site and some of my guest posts...I've written quite a few posts about tax time. I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a few of my more popular posts from previous years.

Simple Strategies for Last-Minute Tax Filers - A guest post I wrote for last year to help people scrambling at the last minute.

Tax Thursdays: 5 Steps to Getting Your Taxes Together - A guest post I wrote on the FreshBooks blog as part of their Tax Thursday series. Check out the rest of that series too; there are plenty of guest posts by folks much smarter than me that can really help you out.

5 tips to avoid an audit - A guest post I wrote for Wave's blog. Hopefully you'll never have to deal with an audit, but here are a few tips to help you avoid that painful process.

6 Ways To Complete Your Tax Return - Finally, here's a good overview on the different ways to get that pesky return filed. This post also has a few handy links at the end, in case you need more help.

Hopefully one of these will prove useful. If you have any questions about your return, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.